BITCOIN COLLAPSE – Australian Businesses Ditch Bitcoin After Banks Act Against Bitcoin Exchanges

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BITCOIN COLLAPSE – Australian Businesses Ditch Bitcoin After Banks Act Against Bitcoin Exchanges

Australia’s major banks are closing accounts of bitcoin companies, forcing at least 13 digital currency providers out of business in response to tougher rules on money laundering and terrorism finance, an industry body spokesman said on Tuesday.

The move comes just months after Westpac Banking Corp became the last of Australia’s four major banks to pull out of the remittances business in order to reduce compliance risks.

Banks globally are exiting sectors that present compliance headaches under pressure from regulators to meet tighter anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing rules.

“The current bitcoin operating model requires very tough compliance and assurance requirements to ensure we meet the high standards required under anti-money laundering regulations,” a Westpac spokesman said.

“We continue to monitor developments in bitcoin, including their regulation.”

Banks have sent letters to 17 bitcoin companies including BitTrade and Buyabitcoin informing them their accounts would be closed, an Australian Digital Currency Commerce Association (ADCCA) spokesman said.

“We continue to speak with banks to find a solution to the problem. ADCCA looks forward to guidance from the government as to how the situation can be resolved,” he said.

Seven percent of the world’s $5 billion worth of bitcoin is in circulation in Australia, according to ADCCA estimates. Startups Begin to Leave Australia Japanese police on Saturday arrested Mark Karpeles, head of the collapsed MtGox Bitcoin exchange, over the disappearance of about $390 (£250 million) worth of the virtual currency, local media said.

France-born Karpeles, 30, is suspected of having accessed the exchange’s computer system and falsifying data on its outstanding balance, Kyodo News and public broadcaster NHK said.

The global virtual currency community was shaken by the shuttering of MtGox, which froze withdrawals in February 2014 because of what the firm said was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoin that allowed hackers to pilfer them. Fifty of the world’s most prominent Bitcoin chieftains are set to gather in secret at an undisclosed Caribbean resort in a roundtable gathering that some are already comparing to The Bilderberg Group meetings.

Coindesk has the story, noting that the gathering, dubbed the Satoshi Roundtable, will take place this weekend and is a closed door confab for “bitcoin CEOs and luminaries”. Members of the Press and the public will not be invited.

“Organized by Bruce Fenton of the Bitcoin Association and Atlantic Financial, participants in the first annual Satoshi Roundtable include top executives from companies such as Blockchain, BitGo, BitPesa, Chain, ChangeTip, Coinapult and MegaBigPower, as well as noted VCs in the space such as Erik Voorhees and Roger Ver.” the report reads.

An official website for the gathering verifies the secrecy of the meeting, noting “Even if you are a great person with many accomplishments in bitcoin and lots of passion we just won’t likely be able to invite you.” “It makes it, obviously, hard to take payments from our customers, but we have a couple of relationships left,” said Andrew Smith, general manager of the Melbourne-based exchange. He declined to identify which bank his firm is now using for fear of repercussions. He said he plans to move the business offshore.

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